Justus Ndukaife awarded distinguished Naval Research grant to advance thermal emission research

Justus Ndukaife, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has been awarded the Office of Naval Research’s Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award for 2024 to continue his innovative research in thermal emission.

Justus Ndukaife

Ndukaife is one of 24 recipients from over 220 applicants who will share nearly $18 million in funding to conduct novel scientific research that will benefit science and technology for the Department of the Navy. Typical grants are $750,000 over a three-year period.

Ndukaife’s research will focus on “Engineering Thermal Emission Using Bound States in the Continuum (BIC).” In July, he and his team of researchers published a paper in Nature’s Light: Science and Applications journal reporting the first experimental demonstration of BIC for optofluidic control.

Also in July, Ndukaife received a $1.9 million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to back his project to expand the fundamental understanding of nanoscale sub-cellular particles using next generation optical tweezers.

The development of optical tweezers was recognized with the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for their efficacy in trapping single cells and larger EVs (extracellular vesicles). Ndukaife developed the first-ever opto-thermo-electrohydrodynamic tweezers that can trap and manipulate objects on the sub-10 nanometer scale at Vanderbilt in 2020.

Founded in 1985, the ONR YIP is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective basic-research, early-career awards in science and technology. Its purpose is to fund tenure-track academic researchers, or equivalent, whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense, while also promoting their professional development.


Contact: Lucas Johnson, lucas.l.johnson@vanderbilt.edu